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Civil engineering technology bachelors degree and job outlook for this degreeHelpful Member!(12) 

isonthejazz (Civil/Environmental) (OP)
21 Feb 13 21:51
I was looking to go to school for civil engineering here in the states. I found that I would prefer to do the more "hands on" approach over the theoretical approach a PE would aquire. So that means a school program in engineering technology. I don't want just an associates and there is a school nearby that offers a bachelors in engineering technology with an civil engineering and design option:
I am thinking of the job outlook at this point. Would anyone have any insight about the opportunities a program like this would help me get and would it help me get and keep a job in this economy?
cvg (Civil/Environmental)
22 Feb 13 0:20
I would advise against it
gbam (Civil/Environmental)
22 Feb 13 9:05
I'm with cvg. One can still obtain a standard civil degree then later their PE and still work in the field as a Resident Engineer. This approach will provide more options for you. Who knows you may like the design side of things. Or, there are many avenues one can specialize in like geotech, Structures (bridge) inspections etc. I suggest that you contact a few Civil Engineers and chat with them.
civilman72 (Civil/Environmental)
22 Feb 13 9:30
It looks like a lot of the classes you would be taking are very similar to a standard civil engineering curriculum. Why go through four/five years of these classes if you aren't maximizing your options - particularly if this is not an ABET-Accredited program (I could not tell)? If you get an accredited B.S. degree in civil engineering, (I would think) you could get any job you would get with an engineering technology degree, but there are plenty of "civil engineering" jobs you will not be able to pursue with an engineering technology degree. Plus, you will almost certainly make a lot less money over the course of your career.
isonthejazz (Civil/Environmental) (OP)
22 Feb 13 9:32
What would be your suggestion then, an A.A.S. degree?
civilman72 (Civil/Environmental)
22 Feb 13 9:51
I had to look up AAS degree to refresh myself:

"An AAS degree typically focuses on the knowledge a student needs to succeed in a particular job rather than providing credits to transfer toward a four-year degree."

Depending on the curriculum, this seems like a better idea than getting a four-year degree in engineering technology, particularly if you are not currently comfortable pursuing a BS in Engineering. Less time and less money to get you out in the field to see what you really want to do.

Good Luck.
isonthejazz (Civil/Environmental) (OP)
22 Feb 13 10:11
Ok, civilman72 just answered my question. Missouri S&T has an civil engineering program as well as an architectural one. I was considering archE until I ran into the technology program at UCM. From what I researched though is that a B.A.S. degree in civil tech gives you higher pay and a different title than a technician, applied engineer or technologist is the terms they use I believe. The more "hands on" approach is what I like most about the technician side of engineering. And in some states, I can sit for a p.e. certification after so many years doing it and taking the higher level math, physics and chemistry classes an associate in engineering can provide so I could farther my career options. UCM states that employers are looking at their grads (especially in their cadd design program) but schools tend to mislead you. I am 36 years old currently and I feel that may also close some doors of opportunity for me so I was thinking that with the applied science degree it may not be as much of an issue when I apply. I am just trying to be realistic about this. I enjoy wearing many hats at a job so the more skills I learn, the better equipped I am to fill a role with many responsibilites. But if an A.A.S. is really all that I would need to get started on the technology side of Civil Engineering, and the rest is kind of a waste, then maybe I should think about that or just go back to my original plan and go to Missouri S&T and get a ArchE degree and move forward. But my gut keeps telling me that a B.A.S. in engineering tech will make me a bigger asset and land me a good job with stability. But I do value a working engineer's opinion.
Helpful Member!  cvg (Civil/Environmental)
22 Feb 13 10:39
if you want to work as a civil engineer in the US, you will eventually need to get registered. that will be very difficult without a BSCE from an ABET acredited school. your options with some sort of technology degree at this engineering firm would be surveyor (start as rod man and work up), construction inspector or drafter. you would not be doing any engineering work. Your other options might be to work as a sales rep for some sort of product (valves, pumps, construction equipment) or work for a construction company, estimating or helping manage projects. If you want to get into mechanical/electrical or industrial you might have more options. A lot of the industrial MEP and HVAC designers are not degreed engineers.
civilman72 (Civil/Environmental)
22 Feb 13 12:24
"But if an A.A.S. is really all that I would need to get started on the technology side of Civil Engineering, and the rest is kind of a waste..."

To clarify - if you try to get your PE with a BSCE from an ABET-Accredited School, you only need 4 years (of engineering experience) to qualify to sit for the test. It would take you 12 years (at least in Colorado) to qualify to sit for the test with any other type of "degree" (two-year of four-year). That makes the additional two years of college in engineering technology "a waste" if pursuing a PE (without a BSCE) is on your wish list.

But if you do not intend to pursue your PE, the last two years of an engineering technology degree is not a waste when compared with an AAS. This type of degree will certainly open more doors for you and offer more pay. My point was, if you are going to complete four/five years of school to get an engineering technology degree, why NOT pursue a BSCE?
isonthejazz (Civil/Environmental) (OP)
22 Feb 13 15:06
Well,first of all, money is part of the consideration. I am looking to get back into college kinda late but I have been a professional musician for over ten years and it does not support a family financially. I am kind of blue collar when it comes to work and I am just looking to make an honest wage. Like what cvg was saying that "your options with some sort of technology degree at this engineering firm would be surveyor (start as rod man and work up), construction inspector or drafter.- industrial MEP and HVAC designers are not degreed engineers." I could be happy doing any of these actually and if I can do two or more with a firm, the better. I really like to wear different hats and if I had many of these skills, then I would become a bigger asset to a firm. And I also like the more "hands on" approach where I am applying knowledge of the more hard sciences to get things done. If I could do both surveyor (start as rod man and work up), construction inspector and or drafter for a firm, I would probably love that. And the biggest thing that scares me about a BSCE would be my age at the time I graduated, 41-42 would be that age. From what I have researched, It would be more difficult for me to find work as a CE at that age. So I feel that if I get in somewhere as a tech, then I could get my math, physics, etc... finished and if the firm I work for would hire me as an engineer, then I would go for it. I would have proved my worth as an tech enough to be able to take the next step, hopefully. Maybe I am wrong about my age to some extent in my thinking and a BSCE is the way to go, I fell confident that I could do it. I am very good at math and sciences. I also scored in the upper 97% in the country on a mechanical apptitude test in grade school. High school counselors kept pointing me in the direction of engineering as well as people that know me in my adult life and I come from an architect's family. But I really do appreciate your time with me on this thread. I feel that your advice is very good and I will be thinking about your thoughts for some time. Thank you for your input.
Helpful Member!  bimr (Civil/Environmental)
22 Feb 13 16:26
If you attend a quality school, your age will not be a factor at all. Engineering is a job for life even well in to your 60's.

The second point is that the more rigorous that your education is, the more financial reqards that you can expect. If you have the capability to do the work, then don't shortchange yourself.

The least expensive approach to an engineering degree is to attend a junior college that has an affiliation with an engineering school. A Co-Op program may also be attractive.
Helpful Member!  gbam (Civil/Environmental)
23 Feb 13 18:52
I waited for 8 years before I went back to college and got my degree. Now I am in my 17th year have my PE in Civil and have a great career. Age shouldnt matter. Just don't cut yourself short.
Helpful Member!  beej67 (Civil/Environmental)
24 Feb 13 1:54
If you do stick with the technology program, learn GIS and BIM. Plenty of jobs out there for that, regardless of what flavor degree you have.

Hydrology, Drainage Analysis, Flood Studies, and Complex Stormwater Litigation for Atlanta and the South East -

eea (Civil/Environmental)
24 Feb 13 6:56
Speaking as a Rolla grad, you should really get your ABET BSCE. Assuming you'll be going to school fulltime, as a tech you'll be making money 2 years earlier than an engineer, but the starting pay differential will negate that in just a few years.

I can’t tell you how many techs have worked for me that could and should be engineers but they either didn't get their undergraduate degree or got one but it wasn’t from an ABET accredited institution (and yes Southern Illinois from the mid-80s I'm calling you out).

Doesn't Rolla offer an evenings or satellite program in St Louis now? Seriously, find a way to get your ABET BSCE. I'd almost guarantee you that the right person applying at a firm as a parttime draftsman or rodman with the statement that you are going to school at night will get you a job pretty darn close to that of the 2 year AA degree.
Helpful Member!  bridgebuster (Civil)
24 Feb 13 9:00
Ask yourself, what do you want to do that will make you happy, or help you best to achieve your goal of supporting a family?

Do you want to work as a designer or in the field? Public works projects or private clients?

If you want to be a project manager or project engineer on a design project for a government client you'll need a PE license. On the construction end of public works projects, the resident engineer is usually a PE, although I've known some people who've held this position with NICET IV certification.

On the contractor end you'll find the full spectrum. PM's and supers who are licensed engineers, and PM's and supers who graduated from the school of hard knocks.

Regarding a technology degree and and the ability to obtain a PE: Way back, on my first job on the construction, I was working as an inspector and I had a PE. I had three coworkers with CE technology degrees. They went to Pennsylvania to take Part A of the exam because New York didn't recognize the degree. One was able to obtain a PE. Why the other two didn't I don't know. I heard one works for a contractor; and one still works as an office engineer (in the NYC area that's the person who maintains the records for the owner on a public works project.)

isonthejazz (Civil/Environmental) (OP)
24 Feb 13 15:50
I think what attracts me the most about the B.S.E.T. program at UCM over Rolla's B.S.C.E. program is the that the courses in engineering start freshman year whereas the engineering courses at Rolla start junior year so it is like i get 4 years of work over 2. It is almost as if I get more skills at UCM and can get hired as more of an asset right out of school. Beej67 states that learning GIS and BIM are two skills that are employable and I get those classes at UCM. If I add Building codes and GIS 2 to the curriculum then I could leave school (after testing) with certificates in Building codes, Surveying and GIS and it makes me feel much more employable. Plus, I take several courses in CADD and their design school is apperently one of the best in the country and employers compete over graduates. So, I also feel that I could come out being a great drafter and know about how to work a BIM program well. Like I have mentioned before, I like to wear many hats and I like to be more in the field then just a drafter but I would love to be a drafter also. It is all about the skills to me and UCM seems to offer allot of skills to prepare me to be a great asset to a city, county or private firm. But, the big kicker is that I can still get a P.E. licence in 37 states from what I have researched, it just takes longer. I don't plan to stay in Missouri and I would go where the jobs are. But, I have also dreamed of an education at Rolla for a long time. I have heard many great things about that school and it just happens to be in my state. My best friend works at Black and Veech in IT and maybe I could get some face time with an engineer and a tech to get there view points. I appreciate your comments and it has given me allot to think about.

Brent Richards
isonthejazz (Civil/Environmental) (OP)
24 Feb 13 15:58

Also, to answer bridgebuster's question, I prefer working in the field over just being an designer but doing both would make me happiest and the public sector is where I would prefer to work, city or county. As far as project management and project engineer, I would feel more comfortable doing those things after years of working experience. So getting a P.E. licence 6-8 years after I graduate makes better sense to me as I have learned all the skills needed and have taken the math, physics etc... classes a engineer would take in evening school.
Helpful Member!  brandonbw (Civil/Environmental)
24 Feb 13 17:37
I think you will have a tough time with the PE test without getting the full degree. I know plenty of drafters working at Civil Engineering firms and Surveyors out in the field who only have a high school degree. They are pretty good at their jobs, but many of them wouldn't be able to go much further in their career because they don't have all of the background knowledge. No one is going to mentor you enough if you don't already have the basics which a BSCE would give you. I have been around this and the old school guys won't take you seriously enough if you don't have your degree. It was amazing how fast the doors opened once I mentioned to PE's in the office that I had a degree from a top 50 Engineering school early in my career.

If you just want to be a drafter you should go to a school that offers an Associates in drafting. I worked with a few guys who went to ITT for that and were pretty good as pure drafters. Though I think technology will slowly make the engineer the drafter/designer and cut pure drafters out completely.

B+W Engineering and Design
Los Angeles Civil Engineer and Structural Engineer | |

isonthejazz (Civil/Environmental) (OP)
24 Feb 13 23:23
I think the big thing here is that I want to do many different things. I am best in those environments. And it looks as though the school at UCM provides many skills. That is what caught my attention. But I think it was stated earlier that a PE in civil does a lot of different jobs. I am just wondering what path would open up more responsibilites. I would hate to just be a drafter or work on a long term project.
Helpful Member!  edcard (Civil/Environmental)
25 Feb 13 4:38
Draftsmen are being phased out. This should be pretty clear by now.

GIS and BIM are indeed hot right now, and users typically have a Geography (for GIS) or engineering degree. To be a rodman, inspector, etc., you don't need a BS in Eng. or even in Eng. Techology, and their salaries reflect that.

I feel that you are leery of enrolling in a BSCE program, and might prefer the CET degree because of being more hands-on, or less difficult, or because of your age or whatever the reason is. Fine, but keep in mind that, as mentioned by others, your options will be much more limited with a CET degree and, based on my own experience in working with CET degree holders, you will lack advanced knowledge of fluid mechanics, numerical analysis, modeling, etc.

Contrary to what others think, I do think that age is a factor, mostly because of lack of experience when you join the workforce. But there's little you can do about it and it may be a factor regardless of your degree. However, it's not an insurmountable obstacle and you might be able to use it to your advantage (maturity coupled with knowledge of the latest and greatest tools they teach you to use at school).

If you can, get a standard Eng. degree. And yes, learn GIS, BIM, project controls, MATLAB, modeling, technical writing, etc.
Helpful Member!  BenJohnson (Civil/Environmental)
26 Feb 13 6:33
There are no short cuts to a great career where you have a wide variety of choices of types of work. Believe me, when you are sitting in front of an interview panel for a job, nothing is better than having a B.S. Civil Engineering, Registered Professional Engineer.

All of us Engineers have gone through the pain of getting to that level, but you need to learn the theory that you only get with a BSCE.

In your case (as in mine) you may have to work a night job while going to school, and take summer school to get your degree as fast as possible. Get your PE as quickly as possible and you will be bringing home a nice salary.

Any other tech degree, or any other path will make you low man on the totem pole. You must always take the job that is offered to you; low salary, and sh*t work.

No short cuts to a great job.
Helpful Member!  concretemasonry (Structural)
26 Feb 13 14:19
isonthejazz -

Do what is the quickest is not usually the easiest. I was lucky and knew what field I was interested in (Civil Engineering) and went into a 5 year program as a commuter (convenient) at a large university which was cheaper.

In college, I immediately was exposed to the many varied areas of CE and worked 4 summers getting qualified experience as a technician under an engineer (DOT). The one snag was a 3 week summer surveying camp. During the learning/exposure years, I decided to get 2 years each of civil and structural/design experience, 2 years of construction and 2 years of public/utilities experience and then wait and decide on a long term direction. Because the job market was good then during the early years, I was able to relocate and come close to my plan. Four or five years after graduation I was a registered CE in 2 states and qualified to take the CA SE structural exam because of qualifying experience before and after my degree.

You never know what will follow once you get a degree and find out the options for the future.

I ended up working very long days (12 hours) 4 or five days a week as a senior concrete engineering technician (DOT) and ended up getting comp time (for over 40 hours per week)checks through part of the fall every year.

First, in the aerospace industry, I climbed around rocket test stands to measure and make designs/modifications for dynamic loading on a very short term basis (day or two), and then surveyed for roads and designed water retention ponds and analyzed test stands (all major loads go up(not down) and analyzed for dynamic loads based on 7 minute peak vibration analysis with accelerometer instrumentation on all joints for comparison the the current AISC standards to pint out weak areas. I even supervised a CA SE for a few months, since registration/signature was not required for the work and my supervisor was both a CA and an IL CE and SE.

As field construction engineer. I worked long and crazy hours on a 24/7 major plant and facilities project (2500 people per day). Nothing theoretical, but all practical and down to earth - just a lot of 0' to 70' rock excavation, 2,000,000 cy sand clay projects (down to -30F), utilities, dams, roads, bridges and railroads. It was like a kid in a candy store.

Later, I worked for a public utility designing power transmission line, supervising construction quality on nuclear plants, plant site selection and even worked with an engineer from the aerospace program on the dynamic soil properties of a proposed nuclear plant site they (D&M) were hired to perform the actual site analysis. The work was boring for the most part, except for the real world.

After my 6 years experience, I went into the concrete block industry and was required to be involved in every possible technical production committee for 20 years. It took 10 years waiting to become a voting member on the ASTM committees and I fortunately was involved in the ACI 530 writing and participated in many disaster analysis after a last minute flight overnight to see the real world.

Bottom line - Do NOT put your self into a "box" too quickly if at all possible! You could miss a lot personally, professionally, exposure (41 countries and counting) profession and many friends and acquaintances that last forever. I appreciate a call at 3:00 AM (U.S. time) from an engineering friend from Ufa, Russia (8 hours different) because he happened to have a free phone connection.

Engineer and international traveler interested in construction techniques, problems and proper design.

isonthejazz (Civil/Environmental) (OP)
26 Feb 13 15:19
Thanks for all of your replies. Rolla is looking better to me although on another forum, I had gotten some different responses. This one contradicts some posts here:
well...a engineering science degree vs a engineering technology differs on the school and the job. If you only pursue a 2 year degree for technology, the pay will greatly be different. You will be titled an engineering technician. Where as a engineering science degree is not employable after 2 years. You need 4 years with an engineering science. Now you can also pursue 4 years with a technology degree and be titled a engineering technologist or a applied engineer. In my experience, this is not the case for everyone. applied engineers(with a minor in math) and engineering science degrees garner almost an equal pay(I have seen engineering technologist degrees be placed in engineering jobs). The real difference between the two at this point is their ability to transfer into graduate programs. This is where engineering science degrees really shine(especially in mechanical or civil because of calc based physics and calc based mechanics). However, if you go for a math minor and get a B.S. technology degree(especially from a good school like R.I.T. or SunyIT) you could go for a graduate degree in industrial or systems engineering seeing as they dont rely as heavily on the physics but the math.

The main difference between the two are just that though. Engineering technology is algebra based and engineering science is calculus based.

Both are in demand and pay great.

Another interesting aspect of these two degrees are their ability after 4 years to take the F.E.(fundamentals of Engineering) exam. This exam allows you to, after 4 years of residency or working in industry, take the P.E. exam(also known as the principles of engineering). This titles allows you to command a whopping salary no matter what your degree is. You can even take the test after 12 years of engineering related experience and no degree. Even getting your 2 year degree, you must wait 2 years after you graduate to get your FE and then 4 more for your PE...

The director of ET at UCM has stated some interesting things about the program there too. The main point I got was that I will do many jobs for a company, not just drafting, and everyday is different. That is really what I want. She also stated that in the civil field, many companies are just getting to know what a technologist can do. Most just hire CE's when what they really need is a CET and that they are opening there doors to their graduates.

I am not thinking of this as a shortcut, but a longer road actualy. If I got a ET degree, then I will have to learn calc and physics in the evenings while I work. So it would be kinda like I get a bachelors in ET and a associates in Engineering. Then wait longer to get a PE license or just be happy where I am. I go to Rolla, and I get the CE in four to four and a half years and thats it. It has always seemed more logical to go to Rolla, but I still see the program at UCM giving me a lot of skills. I am waiting for Rolla to call me back and I am also going to get some face time with engineers and technologists here at Black and Veech.
concretemasonry (Structural)
26 Feb 13 17:12
isonthejazz -

It looks like you have researched options well and made and decision made on the basis of your personal needs, local opportunities and future goals/interests.

Good luck on your future growth!!


Engineer and international traveler interested in construction techniques, problems and proper design.

Helpful Member!  eea (Civil/Environmental)
2 Mar 13 13:04
Warrensburg, seriously? Try the Bailey Technical Institute (a/k/a ITT) - "your future is just a phone call away". Why not knock out two years at night at "Slow Flo" and transfer down to Rolla and get your BSCE. Done!

Get the calculus courses out of the way at community college and sail through the technical courses at a real 4 year institution. Are you married with kids or something? I don’t get the procrastination. You need a contact at Rolla? The civil engineering undergraduate student advisor used to be Dr. Charles Dare but he retired. Try Dr. Jerry Bayless or Dr. Dave Richarson ('ole Toad Suck).
isonthejazz (Civil/Environmental) (OP)
7 Mar 13 0:16
Thanks you guys for all of your input!
I started this thread with my mind on a technologist degree. All of the information that I looked up seemed favorable for it but I wanted some other insight on what kind of work I could qualify to do. I decided to go to Rolla. Looks like I can still be just as hands on with a CE as much as with a ET. If I do happen to struggle with calculus, which will be one of three classes I will take for the next 2 years, then I can just get an A.A.S. in ET with certificates in drafting and GIS within 3 years but I think I can handle the calculus classes while taking 2 other courses in a semester. So I will have the time to study for it. My community college transfers to Rolla having completed the first 2 years in their curriculum. I will take me 5 semesters though to get 2 years done before I can transfer due to the fact that I need to take precalculus first. But I feel very good about it and you guys steered me in the right direction and I thank you for it!
Helpful Member!  NorfolkEIT (Civil/Environmental)
7 Mar 13 12:56
Good luck. I was in a similar situation- 10 years in music only to need a real job because I have children. I started off in remedial math in community college when I was 30 with no real direction. I'm 36 and now a civil engineer EIT with muncipal employment and the ability to sit for my PE next April because I took a job as an eng technician my first year as an engineering student. I'm not a math person but I made it through calc 1, 2 and 3 plus dif eq. You can do it. Don't sell yourself short. If you want to do it, you can.
Helpful Member!  civilman72 (Civil/Environmental)
7 Mar 13 12:59
Good luck and good choice!
isonthejazz (Civil/Environmental) (OP)
13 Mar 13 1:23
One more question; what is the difference between Architectural Engineering and Civil Engineering? I
Understand a little about it, but which one has the more hands on approach?
MrBachelor (Civil/Environmental)
15 Mar 13 0:31
I remember fondly Dr. Richardson's Toad Suck stories from my days at Rolla. The Dr. is a very knowledgeable man and I learned a lot from him. I never thought I would end up in Arkansas after school but did and even found this one day:
I was planning a trip to Rolla for St. Pat's this weekend, but it doesn't look like I will make it after all, maybe next year.

As others have said, the BSCE from ABET school will take you as far as you are willing to go, so long as you are ready to work for it. I made the decision a few years ago to take on a management role with less engineering calculations. I value my base doing the drafting and calculations but enjoy the people skills that come with management more. Having the BSCE qualifies me for current and future promotions with my company and many others. I look forward to the possibility of Principal, President, or CEO one day. Don't forget to look toward your future rather than just compare salaries 2-5 years after graduation.

Nate the Great

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